DEP Commissioner Bob Martin
DEP Commissioner Bob Martin

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today issued an expanded, statewide drought watch, asking all state residents to voluntarily conserve water due to continued hot and dry conditions that have persisted all summer, and are taxing reservoir, stream and groundwater levels.

The decision to expand an existing drought watch that had been in place for the state’s five northeastern counties is a result of record high temperatures and water demands, combined with near-record precipitation lows.

“The drought is deepening and showing no sign of letting up soon, which has made it imperative to take this step now,” said Commissioner Bob Martin. “Our scientists have been closely monitoring the water situation and feel this is a necessary measure.”

“What the entire State really needs is several days of heavy, soaking rain. But until we get some weather relief, we’re asking all state residents to join in an effort to preserve our precious water supply, to more carefully use water and voluntarily reduce unessential use.”

Taking steps such as limiting limit lawn watering, cutting back on at-home car washing, and just doing the laundry when the machine is full can save millions of gallons of water daily and help get us through this situation, said the Commissioner.

A drought watch is a response to deteriorating water supply conditions, with a goal of raising public awareness and formally alerting all water suppliers to the situation, to help preserve existing supplies and balance reservoir storage.

The DEP is not issuing a formal drought warning at this time, which could initiate mandatory steps such as water transfers between regional water supply systems. Instead, the Department is asking residents across the entire state to be aware of the situation and use water more carefully. The goal is to moderate water demand through voluntary conservation.

New Jersey has had no significant rainfall since more than five inches of precipitation inundated a portion of the northeast sector of the State nearly three weeks ago. Some areas have received 25 percent or less of expected summer rainfall. As a result, precipitation indicators have dropped to the severely dry category in the state’s central, coastal north and coastal south regions.

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